In a major crackdown on cybercrime, India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) conducted a nationwide operation against tech support scams and cryptocurrency fraud. This effort, named Operation Chakra-II, aimed to dismantle financial crime rings and involved collaboration with international law enforcement agencies as well as tech giants like Microsoft and Amazon.
During the raids conducted across several Indian states, the CBI seized mobile phones, laptops, and hard disks, froze bank accounts, and gathered vital information related to these alleged scam operations. Notably, the operation uncovered tech support scams impersonating renowned multinational companies, such as Microsoft and Amazon, which had targeted over 2,000 customers worldwide.
The tech support scam rings used various international payment gateways and channels to illicitly acquire funds from foreign victims, mainly from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany. They employed deceptive tactics, including pop-up messages that falsely claimed technical issues on the victim’s computer. Victims were directed to call toll-free numbers, connecting them to the scammers’ e-call centers. These centers would then gain remote access to victims’ computers, convincing them of non-existing problems and pressuring them to pay for unnecessary services.
Such tech support scams have caused significant financial losses, with the FBI’s 2022 Internet Crime Report noting losses exceeding $800 million for over 32,000 victims in the United States in the past year alone.
In addition to targeting tech support scams, the CBI also uncovered a cryptocurrency fraud ring connected to a bogus crypto-mining operation. This fraudulent scheme resulted in substantial losses of at least Rs. 100 crore (approximately $12 million) for Indian investors. The scammers created a fake cryptocurrency token, enticing investors with promises of substantial profits from Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. They developed a website to mislead investors into thinking their funds would be used to acquire mining machines, with profits to be distributed among investors.
While investors initially received returns to build trust, the operation ceased in August 2021 after collecting payments from unsuspecting Indian citizens who had invested through various payment gateways. These actions are part of a broader effort to combat cybercrime and dismantle criminal networks involved in tech support and cryptocurrency fraud.